Skip to main content

Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

See other formats


314                                  UCEE  OP
Our travellers soon reached the shores of the Ebro,
and journeyed to Madrid across the barren plains of
Castile. Humboldt's descriptions and impressions of
this portion of the Spanish peninsula are only recorded
in Ms letters to Goethe, and we have, therefore, no
clue to them, until this correspondence shall be pub-
lished. "We know only so much respecting the
southern and western portion of Spain, that we
can about gather what occupied him most there.
When he composed his elegy to his expected son in
January, 1800, in the Sierra Morena, he had been in
Cadiz, had admired the splendour of the southern
sea and the beautiful bay; had visited Lower Anda-
lusia, Seville, and the mournful ruins of old Italica,
and had traversed the immense ruins of the twice-
destroyed Saguntum, the present Murviedro, and had
crossed the happy plains of Valencia. These excur-
sions prove that, next to the beauties of nature, no-
thing attracted him so much as the remnants of a
classical world, which he found in these regions.
Our travellers must have learnt something of the
perseverance of the Spaniards, for the family accom-
panied Humboldt on all these pilgrimages; the eldest
daughter, about eight years of age,  always in boy's
dothes,   and Madame von   Humboldt  in a   critical
state  of health.    One point which  especially capti-
vated Humboldt's attention was the Montserrat, near
Barcelona, to which he ~giade an excursion in March^
1800, and which he has beautifully described   in a
letter to Goethe, published in a geographical journal
at the time, and now included in his collected works.
The joTzrney was made on mules from Barcelona^
through the valley  of  Llobregat.    The   Montserrat
stands, as is well known,  island-like, rising  in the
midst of the plain.    Near the summit of the moun-
tain, in it as it were, and surrounded by cones, em
whose summits pious enthusiasm has planted tlbosİ
hermitages,  stands the   Benedictine   cloister  of the
lopctntain.    Humlbolclt -was entertained by the monks
with their celebrated hospitality*    He gives a detailed